Lawmakers shelve bill on alternative military duty for prominent pop celebrities

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SEOUL, Nov. 25 (Yonhap) — Lawmakers on Thursday discussed a bill that would allow prominent pop celebrities like K-pop superstar BTS to substitute their mandatory military service for other public service but failed to draw a conclusion.
A subcommittee of the National Assembly’s national defense committee deliberated on the bill, which has drawn attention because it would allow BTS and other top artists to apply for alternative military duty.
An official related to the subcommittee said lawmakers from both ruling and opposition parties gave mixed opinions on the bill and agreed to hold a public hearing on the bill.
All able-bodied South Korean men between the ages of 18 and 28 must carry out compulsory military service for about two years in a country that faces North Korea across a heavily fortified border.
Military service exemptions were given only to international award-winning athletes and classical musicians for their roles in elevating the country’s reputation overseas.
There is talk of whether K-pop boy band BTS members should be given a chance to do alternative military duty in recognition of their contribution to South Korea’s national image with their unprecedented Billboard-topping hits.
Late last year, the government promulgated a revised law that allows pop culture celebrities credited with contributing to improving the country’s image to postpone their mandatory military service.

kdh@yna.co.kr
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